Category: Appeals

Syria conflict: cash grants to refugees in Jordan bring hope

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Man signing up for the cash grant programme in Ajloun, Jordan

©IFRC/ Raefah Makki

Mohammed and his six children have recently arrived in the Ajloun governorate of Jordan, 47 miles north-west of Amman. The 33-year-old Syrian came to escape Zaatari refugee camp, which his children couldn’t bear during the harsh winter.

We meet Mohammed on a Wednesday morning at the Jordanian Red Crescent branch in Ajloun. He is one of the 256 vulnerable people in Ajloun who the Red Crescent has carefully selected to receive a cash grant, to pay for accommodation and household items.

He says: “I came here to receive an ATM Card. I still don’t know how the system works, but I am very excited to learn as this will certainly support my six children and my wife. With this card we will be receiving cash that will enable us to pay for rent. More

Syrian refugees in Jordan: waiting for the Syria conflict to end

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Syrian refugees in Jordan

©BRC/ Ibrahim Malla

This is a guest blog by Julia Brothwell, a member of our disaster management team who recently returned from Jordan.

As news broke that one million Syrians were seeking refuge in countries neighbouring Syria, I was on my way to Za’atari Camp in Jordan – temporary home to 140,000 refugees. I saw new toilet and washroom facilities being built on the outskirts of the camp. Soon tents and shelters made from containers will spring up to fill the gaps between the breeze-block structures.

Basic needs like food, shelter, water and medical care are covered by a multitude of UN agencies and non-governmental organisations. Along the camp’s main thoroughfare, shops have opened up to sell a variety of goods to make life a little more comfortable – from fresh bread, fruit and vegetables to cigarettes, mobile phones and even twin-tub washing machines. Small coffee shops sell sandwiches and sodas, while barbers offer haircuts and shaves. More

Getting aid to Syria: ‘We’ve paid in blood for our independence’

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This is a guest blog from Khaled Erksoussi, the head of operations for the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, who recently visited the UK.

The issue of safe access within Syria is very complex. Because it’s a polarised crisis, everyone considers that if you are not with them you are against them. So everybody might consider you their enemy if they have that in mind.

You have to make them understand that we are only with the people in need. We don’t care about their affiliation. We don’t care about their opinion. We never ask anyone: “Are you with the government, are you with the opposition?” It’s not our role.

My main job is to coordinate and follow up on Red Crescent operations. I certify that we have safe access and coordinate with everybody in the field to get the aid materials to reach the people in need in all areas. More

Cuba interview: Hurricane Sandy almost wiped out entire communities

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A lady living in a shack built from remnants of her previous home, in the Soledad and Ocaña community.

©BRC

In late October 2012, Hurricane Sandy caused extensive flooding, damaged buildings and infrastructure and left thousands of people homeless in the Caribbean and United States. I spoke to British Red Cross resilience advisor Maria Clara Attridge, who recently visited Cuba to see how the Hurricane Sandy relief operation is progressing there.

How was the situation when you visited?

Maria: “Reconstruction was well underway. In Cuba, the population is usually very proactive – there is a strong sense of solidarity. After the hurricane everyone was out on streets, clearing rubble and repairing the damage.

“At the moment, a lot of people are still living in temporary shelters and makeshift homes, or staying with family and friends. Although a lot of rubble has been cleared, the government estimates that only 14 per cent of roofs have been repaired.

“The government has been finding solutions for affected families – loans, subsidies and sometimes grants, depending on their situation. The vulnerable are prioritised and the community understands this.” More

Syria conflict: interactive photo map

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The map is for illustrative purposes only, and does not express a British Red Cross opinion.

Every day, in virtually every part of the country, Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteers and staff are risking their lives to get aid to the most vulnerable Syrians – whatever side of the conflict they are on.

To ensure that they are reaching anyone who needs help, volunteers must negotiate their way through checkpoints, down roads fought over by armed groups.

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Volunteer doctor in Homs, Syria: ‘Maybe I will be arrested, and maybe I will die’

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This is a guest blog from Dr. Mohamed Noor Al Nassan, a Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteer who visited London this week. He is the healthcare coordinator in the Homs branch.

My life has changed a lot. Two years ago I was with my family. But after about six months I couldn’t stay with my family – because it’s a hard job and it was a risk to go to my wife, to my home. So, since September 2011, I live in the Syrian Arab Red Crescent’s Homs branch.

I see my family once a week, on Friday. I go home and have a dinner with my father and my mother. Then on the Saturday morning I’m back to the Red Crescent. It’s very difficult.

Fifty per cent of the team are now staying with the Red Crescent. Because our families are displaced people, some volunteers don’t have a home now. It’s very hard. More

Syria Interview: ‘people have paid enough with their fear and their pain’

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Dr. Attar outside the British Red Cross head office

©BRC

Dr. Abdulrahman Attar, president of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, visited London this week. I spoke to him about the Red Crescent’s work in Syria and the deteriorating humanitarian situation.

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What is the Syrian Arab Red Crescent’s role in Syria?
Dr. Attar: “The Syrian Arab Red Crescent was established in 1942. Since then, it has been fully independent and fully elected.

“Syria is about 180,000 km². We have 14 branches and 80 sub-branches, and our volunteers come from all those areas. Our volunteers come from the society – they know the ground, they know the geography, and it is easy for them to communicate with the people.

“But without partnership with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and National Societies, we could not do our job – because the need has become more and more big, and resources within the Red Crescent are limited.” More

Japan tsunami recovery: Yoshiko gets over the trauma

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Yoshiko Sugawara with her husband in the waiting room of Motoyoshi hospital

© Masaki Kamei/ JRCS

Since the traumatic events of 11 March 2011, Yoshiko, 83, has had to visit her local public hospital regularly. She explains: “I’ve had lots of psychosomatic health problems – my daughter in law and grandchildren spent ages struggling in the water and my son’s home was 70 per cent destroyed.” More